The Kaiser loves the idea of sending Germans to the Moon, but his advisors are less keen. Germany needs to expand on Earth, not into space. Nevertheless the idea has a good deal of popular support, even amongst those who would normally object to military projects of similar magnitude. Gradually politicians begin to see it as a way to encourage patriotism and bring some dissident voices back into the fold of the Empire. And the Kaiser will be paying a large part of the expenses from his personal fortune, so the burden won't fall heavily on the tax payers or the budget. Accordingly the Imperial Lunar Expedition (Kaiserliche Mondexpedition) is nominally a scientific survey. That's why they're only taking two Maxim guns...
Prussia's craft is Der Adler (the Eagle), and it's big. Where Hackenbacker plans a quick flying visit, the first Prussian expedition will be a thorough investigation of the Moon's resources. Der Adler will carry a team of ten explorers, equipped to stay on the Moon for weeks. It will have a galley, a proper control room, and everything else needed for their comfort and survival. This of course means that the launch cannon must be truly vast. There's a big snag; Germany's location. The southern tip of the empire is in Bavaria, and even that's only at 48°N, a far cry from the equatorial location that's ideal for a Lunar launch. Fortunately Germany has colonies overseas, one of them being German East Africa, and it will soon become apparent that the Space Cannon (Die Raumkanone) is being built in mine workings near Dar-es-Salaam, an Indian Ocean harbour close to the equator at 7°S.
In order to make this work most of the components have to be prefabricated in Germany and shipped by sea; very little can be manufactured locally. This is a long difficult journey, via the Mediterranean and Suez Canal then down the African coast. Unfortunately Germany's West African colonies, otherwise more accessible, are too far South and have inadequate harbours. Needless to say Britain and the other colonial powers are not entirely happy about vast quantities of explosives being shipped to Africa, fearing that some may be stockpiled for use in a future war. Nevertheless construction of the space cannon is going ahead at a brisk pace, and observers who have visited Dar-es-Salaam have noticed the enthusiasm with which it is being built, and the eagerness with which the natives are working. This may be the result of generous wages, or possibly they simply like the idea of visiting the Moon.
|Der Adler (Prussia) |
10-passenger cannon-launched projectile spacecraft.
Control room, 1 x 2nd class cabin, 2 x 3rd class cabins, 7 x 4th class bunks, supplies 10 x 4 weeks, hold 5.0 tons 10.0 Yds³, landing gear, rocket / parachutes for return flight, heavy armoured hull, radio transmitter.
Other Equipment: 10 x vacuum suits, prospecting supplies, cameras, 2 x Maxim guns, etc.
131.7 tons, 275.2 Yds³, £30,492, BODY 75
Launch cannon with staggered explosive charges £1,025,250, explosives £100,000 maintainance £50,000. These prices do not include the cost of transportation to Dar-es-Salaam.
Notes: The Bemanntes Raumgeschoß (Manned Space Projectile) Adler is to be a showcase for Prussian engineering, and everyone wants to be sure that nothing can go wrong. This means that it uses conservative Prussian engineering techniques and a thorough approach to safety - in other words everything is at least 20% stronger than theory suggests it needs to be, and a good deal more complicated. The hull is thicker than most theoretical studies suggest is necessary, the rocket engines are slightly over-specified, there's even a small chemically-fuelled generator to keep batteries charged so that nobody has to pedal, although it's strongly recommended for health reasons.
Although the craft is nominally owned by the Head of State, the Kaiser, he's also Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and it will be crewed by officers and men of the Imperial Army and Navy. Selection criteria will be severe, with every man chosen for his skills, experience, and fitness. If the mission is a success they will become the first cadre of the Imperial Prussian Space Corps (Das preußische Reichsraumkorps).
The illustration shows the craft being lowered into the firing shaft to check its fit prior to the placement of explosives.